Sitting in the away end at Anfield I never thought that I would live to see the day when my local non league side Havant and Waterlooville would be leading Premier League giants Liverpool 2-1 with minutes to go until half-time.
Unfortunately, the dream proved to be short lived as Steven Gerrard and Peter Crouch entered the fray and ensured that the Merseysiders progressed into the next round. This kind of practice can be seen every day in the sphere of college football where there is a definite difference in ability between your everyday college footballer and a first choice blues pick.
Earlier in the term there was controversy where an unfortunate Blues player was seriously injured during a routine college match, causing him to miss the rest of the season. This incident lead to calls for a blanket withdrawal of Blues players from college games. However, a settled compromise seems to have been reached with current Captain Elliot Thomas introducing a discretionary approach and leaving it to his players to decide whether it is appropriate to play.
In a way, the Blues versus college debate seems to be the reverse of the well-publicised club versus country debate that has raged throughout recent Premier League campaigns. Once a player joins the Blues team then this should be the primary focus of his footballing career as opposed to the situation nationally where it is assumed that allegiance to your club side is of primary importance.
The wellbeing of a Blue’s player leading up to the all important varsity match is obviously imperative but choosing to play for their college can alter the outcome of the college sporting season. It would seem obvious that there is a temptation for a side chasing promotion or fighting relegation to bring in a Blues player for that crucial game but it is not a luxury that all teams have at their disposal. The JCR football league is the embodiment of college sporting spirit and togetherness and the league table should have the focus of telling us who the best team is come the end of the season, not who has the ability to bring it players of better quality once it comes to the crunch.
I know this may sound silly when one considers a parallel example from the Premier League and I am not suggesting in any way that we should limit the number of international players allowed in any one squad (how else would Manchester City field a first XI?) but I do think that some sort of limitation might be appropriate in the college setting. It’s in the interest of rewarding the efforts of those who have competed across the course of the season and not allowing them to fall at the final hurdle when a Blues striker scores a decisive hat trick in his first appearance for his college side.